Since writing the post about Hagen, I’ve heard from thousands of parents. Some have experienced the same loss and some expressed their fear that my reality would become theirs. One thing I’m hearing repeatedly is that they are being told by friends and family members to “turn their backs' ' on their children until they beat their addiction. I say this with no anger in my heart, but unless you have a child fighting this battle, or have fought it yourself, STOP GIVING THIS ADVICE. I believe it comes from a good place, but just stop. The ones that took that advice and lost their child are now struggling with such severe guilt that they can’t begin to heal. The reality is an alarming number will not beat their addictions, especially if they have no connection with their families.
I received the same advice but chose not to listen. As parents we aren’t wired to “turn our backs'' on our kids for any reason. It’s unnatural and I, for one, would not have been able to live with myself if I had listened. Instead, I chose boundaries for both of us, and kept them in place. I turned my back on the addiction, NOT my child, and as a result, nothing was left unsaid. I have no guilt because I never gave upon the child the Lord entrusted me with. Turning your back on someone eliminates the opportunity to say I love you and it burns a bridge for them to cross when and if they decide to seek help. Most of these kids are surrounded by people who want to keep them where they are, and alienation from the ones that want nothing more than to help them is not the answer.
If you want to do anything for a parent going through this, pray for them, listen to them, and love them. Encouragement goes a long way. And if you really want to help, educate yourselves on addiction. It’s up to the parent to decide how they are going to handle their children and they need someone in THEIR corner because it’s our battle too.
To the parents that are in the fight - do what you can live with. Don’t stick your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. Protect yourselves, your other children and your home from the addiction, but love your child. See your child for who they are, not who you thought they would be, or the potential they had. See them where they are and the pain they are in and love them from that place.
And remember this - you cannot change them.
As much as you want to, you can’t.
Don’t let their addiction destroy you.
That’s Satan’s plan - regardless of the poison your child is addicted to - his endgame is to take the entire family out. I know it isn’t easy. I know it’s the worst place to be in life as a parent. Stand strong. And when you can’t stand, rest and let the Lord fight for you and your babies. He will never leave or forsake (turnHis back on) you or your child.